The Loneliness of Change in an Organization

A Common Problem

One of the most common questions I get asked usually goes like this: “What do I do if I want to be a catalyst for change, but no one else is receptive?” I can’t tell you how often this comes up. I don’t know about you, but this makes me think of that saying, “If you want to change the world, you have to begin with yourself.” That’s the kind of saying they have painted on a classroom wall, but that saying has truth to it. And anyone who has tried to be the change within their organization has felt this. 

It’s a struggle. It can be so demotivating to reimagine a new workplace, but no one wants to reimagine with you. Or even more so, to make personal changes to achieve that new workplace and have them all fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. Change is hard. It’s even harder when no one notices. Change is also incredibly lonely at the beginning. So why make a difference at all then, many people wonder. 

The Solution

Here is my response to this unfortunate and all too common occurrence. I hear you, and that’s hard. You’re trying, and people aren’t giving anything back. It feels like you are swimming against the strongest of currents again and again. I understand. I’ve even been there before. In fact, most people who have ever gone about promoting greater change have stood exactly where you are standing right now. 

Remember the Point

What you need to focus on in the moments where you feel like defeat is much closer than success is the purpose behind your actions. Are you making these personal changes in your behavior or leadership style for yourself or others? If you go out determined to be kind and show care to everyone and receive callous responses, it is disheartening, but it’s not defeat. That’s not the purpose. The point is that you are changing and evolving, and the only thing you can control when changing is yourself. Maybe the effects will spill over, and kindness will trickle (and usually it does), but that is not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to be the best version of yourself that you can be regardless of your surroundings, environment, culture, etc. 

Where Does Responsibility Fall?

It’s a tale as old as time once you think about this on a broader scale. Being a catalyst for change within your organization is an immense burden. But, you are not responsible for the actions or inactions of your coworkers. The culture does not belong solely to you. If you are doing your due diligence to reflect the change you hope to see on a personal level, then you should not let guilt or discouragement seep in. 

It takes an incredible amount of willpower to make personal changes. Be proud of the accomplishments you have achieved and put failure out of your mind. That sort of negative energy will taint the positive changes you have worked so hard to manifest in your daily life. 

Although you may feel alone in your endeavors and pursuits, I can promise you that you are not alone. Come join the Caring Leadership Community to see just how many people are standing in your shoes.

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